For ‘Invisible’ Pollen, cutting down Poplars may prove counterproductive

Negating the commonly accepted notion that allergy is caused by pollens produced by the poplar trees in valley, medicos and environmental experts say that poplar falls last in category that causes the allergy and there are number of other causative factors that are responsible for allergy. 

Dr. Ghulam Hassan, Allergist, SMHS while speaking to Kashmir Vision said that “we analysed the cotton that is produced by the poplar trees, and did not found any allergic component in it.”

Interestingly, Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the year 2015 had ordered to cut down the Russian poplar trees in valley, which as per experts is of no use and may prove to be counterproductive.

In June, 2016 government informed High Court that two lakh trees were cut in Kulgam, and there are plans to chop more than four lakh trees in district Pulwama.

Environmentalists say that female poplar trees that shed cotton do not produce pollen, and that pollen is something that is not visible.

The question arises: why, and on whose recommendations the state and the High Court ordered the cutting down of enormous number of poplar trees in valley.

As per experts the main causes of allergy in Kashmir are dust, lawn grass, Deodar, Kikar, Chinar and at the end comes much cursed Poplar.

Fozia Qazi, an Environmentalist says that number one cause of pollen allergy is the lawn grass, “and in our state the number one cause of allergy is dust.”

Popular falls last in the list, which interestingly makes 33 per cent of total green cover of the state.

As per data available, among the allergy patients in Kashmir, 92 per cent are allergic to dust.

Experts say that cutting down of trees is no option to tackle the menace of pollen allergy, and if the state goes on to tackle it by cutting down poplar trees, it is only going to bring about what they termed as “ecological catastrophe” in state.

“The climate changes that we experience in the state, may be the main cause is the chopping of poplar trees,” said Sheikh Mubark Gul who teaches Environmental Science.


Gul said that by cutting down poplar trees, the wind speed will increase, that ultimately will cause huge destruction during wind storms. 

This year, on May 17, Director School Education, Kashmir (DSEK), directed for immediate felling of Russian Poplar trees in all educational institutions of Kashmir, and ironically, demanded a compliance report within a week, so that as per them “the health of children is secured.”

Dr. Ghulam Hassan has got something interesting to suggest to the government. As per him, instead of cutting down the trees to tackle allergies; why not to go for immunotherapy?

“We can go for immunotherapies in one go, for those patients who are prone to allergies. If a patient is allergic to any component that is present in the surroundings, after immunotherapy that element will be as if nonexistent, with no effect on the patient.”

Dr. Ghulam Hassan is a certified allergist, who has been conducting immunotherapy in Kashmir since 2013, curing routine allergies.

The entire discussion suggests that cutting down of poplar trees— even some are saying that with this logic Chinar trees are also to be chopped off—which seems to be unaffordable. The government should be looking out for alternatives and other options to tackle the menace, in addition to this, a proper campaigning should be launched to educate people regarding the issue.

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